TruGROID Records proudly presents Burnt Sugar’s brand new double CD “Black Sex Yall Liberation & Bloody Random Violets”– their most diverse and opulent recording to date. Representing their sixth studio recording in four years, the collection features key contributions from Vernon Reid, Vijay Iyer, Butch Morris, Pete Cosey, Tamar Kali, DJ Mutamassik, Omega Moon and Kirk Douglass of The Roots.
Executive Producer Jared Michael Nickerson
Conduction and Production By Greg Tate
Under the creative direction of conductor Greg Tate, Burnt Sugar has evolved, in less than five years, from a midnight jam session between friends at CBGBs into an internationally renowned performing and recording ensemble with six releases.
Made up of some of the most virtuosic, adventurous and innovative talent on the current New York scene, Burnt Sugar has provoked critics to some of the most rapturous and poetic praise seen in recent times.
With the release of “Blacksex Yall Liberation & Bloody Random Violets”, Burnt Sugar is set to further prod fans and commentators to new heights of metaphoric ecstasy. Working with more written and arranged material than on past efforts; the group reveals its awe-inspiring range as improvisers, composers, conceptualists, social critics and groove merchants.
The album opener; “Funky Rich Medina” is a tribute to the esteemed DJ of the same name who Tate became a quick fan of at the legendary ‘Fela’ parties Medina spun for in connection with curator Trevor Schoonmaker’s Black President exhibition.
The track features the slashingly rhythmic cutting and scratching of DJ Mutamassik and the jazz gypsy violin aerobatics of Mazz Swift. Flautist Satch Hoyt, who lends a very Rahsaan Roland Kirk inspired solo to the proceedings also happens to be a critically acclaimed visual artist in the ‘Black President’ show.
“Fear”, written by guitarist Rene Akan, has haunting lyrics co-written by full-throated vocalists Lisala Beatty and Justice Dilla-X. The tune trades off rhythm and blues balladry and punk rave-up. The tenor saxophone work of Petre Radu-Scafaru, erotically when not skronkingly multiphonic, nastily embosses the track’s luscious blend of frenzy and release. Justice’s clamor to know whether the powers that be consider him a threat are only vaguely answered by his epiphany “I am a darkcloud living in America”.
Two of the album’s compositions come from Black music masters Miles Davis and Max Roach: “Mtume” comes from the late dark magus’ “Get Up With It”. It became a favorite of Tate’s when he saw Davis electric band perform over a weeklong stay in Washington DC in 1974 at the long defunct Etcetera club. Saxophonist Radu-Scafaru and trumpeter Lewis Flip Barnes evoke the spacey ambience of Joe Henderson and Eddie Henderson’s acoustic-electric recordings of the 70s. The wordless vocals of Dilla-X and Beatty and the siren guitar of Rene Akan provide a stunning fairy dance.
The albums other ‘cover tune’ is “Driva Man/Freedom Day” a suite composed by Max Roach/Abby Lincoln and arranged for the band by Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid. A first take, no-overdub wonder it pays homage to the swing of 50s bop and to jazz’s future by way of Micah Gaugh’s EFX ridden alto saxophone and the hyperkinetic live electronic drumming of Marque Gilmore, highly regarded as the man who took drum and bass rhythms beyond the DJ booth and into the modern drummers hands.
Disc One ends with “Muta’s Rites” a remix of material from Burnt Sugar’s previous recording “The Rites” (which featured legendary 70s Miles and Electric Mud guitarist Pete Cosey bassist Melvin Gibbs and a 15 member ensemble under the conduction of Tate’s baton-mentor, Butch Morris) by DJ Mutamassik who prepared this ‘version’ on her KAOS pad.
The double-set’s second disc; “Nomadology” is largely given over to Tate’s “No Direction Home, re: Muhammad & Malvo”. It presents the composer’s attempt to reckon with the psyches of the two alleged DC snipers and the reign of terror they are accused of perpetrating in the DC/Maryland/Virginia area in the summer of 2002. A thirty-minute suite broken into ten tracks, the piece sears via the torrential solos of violinist Swift, saxophonist Gaugh, DJ Mutamassik and electronic vocalist Latasha N. Nevada Diggs.
Diggs, who also performs with Vernon Reid and DJ Logic’s “Yohimbe Brothers” project, puts her patented electronically altered yodeling to spine-chilling use here, conjuring up a shell-shocked portrait of betrayed innocence and misdirected faith. For Tate, Diggs’ performance, in combination with Mutamassik’s provocative scratches and soundbites resonantly reveals Black Sex’s hidden conceptual intent: “To obliquely and sonically puzzle over lofty abstractions like radical Beauty, revolutionary Desire, esoteric Wisdom and the zeitgeist in this age of state sponsored terror and medieval Christian, Zionist and Islamic zealotry”
The sweeping symphonic lullaby heard in the final section recalls both Alice Coltrane and Public Enemy.
“Moonchile” is a rock and roll instrumental Sun Ra might have approved of, especially given the piano work of Vijay Iyer who seems intent on a barrelhouse marriage of Little Richard, Cecil Taylor and Eddie Palmieri. The outer-dimensional guitar soloing of Morgan Craft, Kirk Douglas (now with The Roots) and Rene Akan also intensify the psychedelic vibe. The hallucinogenic and witchy rapping of MC Omega Moon compliments the guitarists’ fervor.
“Ventris”, a song originally written by Tate and Tamar-Kali in tribute to various African goddesses, here gets an impressionistic rendering full of thunder, lightning and rain courtesy of pianist Iyer and violinist Swift.
Closing out the disc is “The Rites Redux”, an alternate version of a track first heard on their previous album “The Rites”. Somewhat darker than the version heard on that album, ‘Rites’ points to the Wagnerian sturm un drang Burnt Sugar and Butch Morris have wrenched from the Stravinsky source material in live performance.
Burnt Sugar plans to support the release of ‘Black Sex’ with extensive touring in the States and Europe in early 2004.